February 11, Pope Benedict XVI, leader of the Catholic Church, announced his resignation at the College of Cardinals. Benedict feels that with his current health problems and declining stability, he would not be able to adequately perform his daily duties. His resignation date is set for February 28 after which he will remain in the Vatican for security reasons. There will be no temporary pope for the 15-20 days it takes for a new one to be chosen which leaves them confused because, as we all know, every group needs a leader.
Choosing a new pope will not be easy at this point in time because it has been so long since the last election for a new pope. There are five steps in electing a new pope. First, the Vatican summons a conclave of cardinals within 15-20 days of the resignation. Then, cardinals under the age of 80, are sequestered within Vatican City, and each takes an oath of secrecy, swearing not to release voting information unto the people as this will cause chaos. Next, two elections will be held each morning and afternoon which need a two-thirds majority rule to choose a winner. Then, ballots are burned after each round with black smoke which meaning no decision and white smoke meaning a pope is chosen. Bells accompany the white smoke to avoid confusion. Finally, the new pope is introduced from the loggia overlooking St. Peter’s Square with the words “HabemusPapam” (We have a pope) and he imparts his first blessing.
This is an unusual circumstance for many reasons: He is the first pope to resign since Gregory XII, 600 years ago, for the first time in history an African-American candidate is in the race, and there is also a North American candidate in the running.
Further information can be found on the news, internet, and even from a Catholic Minister. The steps for electing a new pope are further explained at www.saratogian.com/articles/2013/02/11/news/doc51191073e82d9571314528.txt